Joe had hopped a train car or two in his day, but this one was going to be the big-daddy of them all. It was most certainly was.
Barreling across the switchyard in the dead railroad-bull’s pickup truck, he stomped the pedal to the floor and got the speedometer’s needle pushing up angrily against the 45 mile-per-hour max limit mark. Keeping the vehicle at that speed, he kicked open the driver’s side door and positioned himself outside far as he could go and still press the gas.
The train had a head start, and Joe knew he couldn’t catch up to the engine. He’d have to settle for the last of the two boxcars — the one with the gigantic Big Eater alien beast inside. That was just fine by him, truth be known, because he’d been itching for a shot at the monster ever since first laying eyes on it.
Joe eyeballed the very edge of the switchyard where stood a berm with some woods beyond it. He wouldn’t be able to reach the train before getting there, so he’d have to improvise. Luckily, improvise was what he did best.
He barreled at the berm and hit it at top speed, sending the truck flying through the air. He leapt outside the door while airborne and grabbed hold the side of the rear boxcar just as his truck crashed in a screeching twisted-metal heap on the ground.
The truck’s impact caught the attention of the mantisoid in the engine. It popped its head out, saw Jim, and started working its creepy little antenna at the air. It must have sent out some kind of signal because next thing Joe knew the door of the lead boxcar was sliding open and half a dozen mantisoids were skittering in Joe’s direction.
He’d just planted his feet firmly beneath him and gotten ready for some pugilism when the whole boxcar on which he stood shuttered violently and a deafening roar split the air. Joe tumbled backwards and bounced over top the boxcar and off the back side. He managed to catch himself with one hand and was dangling there when a twenty-foot-long tentacle burst out the side of the boxcar and twisted in the air grasping blindly around for Joe.
The dumb tentacle hit one of the mantisoids and knocked it back between the two boxcars. Joe looked down to see the a long green trail of the thing’s blood pass beneath him and then its decapitated head bouncing back and forth between the rails like a pinball.
Joe was now dangling off the back of a speeding boxcar with five mantisoids bearing down over top of him and a giant tentacle flailing around looking for his head.
In other words, there wasn’t another place in the world that he’d rather be.
Part 12 is HERE.